Accreditation by the American Academy for Liberal Education signifies institutional integrity and a strong commitment to liberal education, as evidenced by meeting or exceeding the Academy’s independently established Education Standards. These standards require students to complete demanding studies in the arts and sciences, and require that they be taught by senior as well as junior faculty. This independent or third-party review provides interested parties, including parents and prospective students with a clear means of identifying colleges and programs with focused, well-articulated goals for liberal learning in areas such as history, mathematics, science, literature, languages and philosophy, and with coherent approaches to liberal education.
Within the US there are three types of institutional membership:
- Institutional Accreditation/Preaccreditation - For new or previous members of the Academy who want AALE to be their sole or accreditor of record for academically oriented accreditation.
- Program Accreditation – For colleges that are already institutionally accredited by another accreditor and want AALE to by their specialized accreditor for their degree granting liberal arts program, including honors colleges.
- Certification – For colleges or programs within a college that do not offer the baccalaureate degree.
Globalization has created an unprecedented international demand for postsecondary education. While much of the demand is for specialized qualifications and degrees, it is being increasingly recognized both here and abroad that technical competence in itself can be too limiting. It must be supplemented by or embedded in an education productive of men and women who are skilled in the language arts; comfortable and competent in mathematics and technology regardless of their specific careers; capable of excelling at demanding and complex undertakings; highly adaptable to changing circumstances; and who are comfortable living with the uncertainties that characterize contemporary life. This, of course, is a function of liberal or general, not specialized, education.
Aware of this new international reality, in 2004 the Academy’s Board decided to expand membership to colleges outside the US.
Outside the US , the Academy offers three types of membership:
- Program Accreditation – For college or universities that require a liberal arts core leading to a baccalaureate degree that meets AALE’s standards at the same level as programs within the US and wish to have third-party review of their institution and the highest stamp of quality that the Academy may offer a school outside the US.
- Certification – For colleges or universities that either do not offer a baccalaureate degree or meet some of the standards for program accreditation, but not all of them.
- Affiliation – For colleges or universities that are in stated agreement with the Academy's standards but have not developed a liberal arts core of sufficient breadth or depth to qualify yet for a higher level of recognition.
The American Academy for Liberal Education is located in Alexandria, Virginia, and is non-profit, non-partisan, and non-sectarian. The Academy certifies and accredits programs and colleges worldwide that are concerned with with liberal education and the liberal arts. The Academy is not a Title IV accreditor for colleges within the US.